Formartine’s petition response – works on B9170 near Tarves

We are aware of a petition looking for Aberdeenshire Council to use traffic controls instead of a road closure starting today (January 23) on the B9170 at Tarves, near Formartine’s Visitor Centre, “to minimise the impact on the local community, economy and surrounding roads.”

Firstly, it is important for all those who responded to be clear that this work cannot be carried out without a road closure. 

Along the length of the B9170 requiring attention the width of the road is around 5.8-6 metres wide. The work that is planned will involve resurfacing distressed areas of the road surface, resulting in patches between 2.4-3 metres wide, over a length of around 2 kilometres.

For a route such as the B9170, which is a bus route and also a route used by HGVs, the minimum width for “shuttle working” (such as traffic lights or a convoy system) is 3 metres.

We must also allow for an appropriate sideways clearance, in effect a safety zone between the works and passing vehicles. The sideways clearance for this category of road would be between 0.5-1.2 metres, depending on the speed control measures that we could put in place.

We also have to take account of the overhang of the paver, which will project outside the width of the patch and the space required for workers to safely pass the machine.
 
So, taking all these factors into account, we are looking at a working width of around 3.8 metres.  With a road width of 5.8 – 6m, it is simply not possible to maintain the minimum shuttle width of 3 metres.

As stated, this section of road was closed in November last year, to allow similar works to be undertaken.  Unfortunately, due to issues with the weather the works were not completed. 

At that time the decision was taken not to extend that closure to finish the works, but to return at a later date. In part this decision was taken following feedback about the potential impact of such works on local businesses in the run up to the festive period.

During these discussions we were encouraged to finish the work in January and February because business is quieter at this time, hence the current closure, which avoids the mid-term school break.

Moving on to arrangements for the diversion of traffic, the signed diversions will direct traffic onto roads of a similar standard to the B9170.  However, we accept that drivers with local knowledge are likely to make use of more minor routes. 

We would always advise caution to drivers of larger vehicles, as these routes are likely to be of a lower standard than they are used to, and accommodating larger vehicles can lead to localised difficulties.  For that reason we would always encourage use of the signed diversion routes, unless local access is required. 

In terms of winter maintenance, the signed diversion is onto a similar class of roads, which are already provided with the same level of winter maintenance as the B9170.
 
Unfortunately, this does not extend to the unsigned diversion, and these routes will continue to be provided with the level of service applicable to our secondary network.
 
More information on our winter operations can be found on the roads section of Aberdeenshire Council's website.

Unfortunately maintaining roads to the standard our communities expect occasionally means shutting or restricting roads, which can of course lead to some inconvenience and we can only apologise for that.